August Sander: The sisters Ida, Lina, Bertha and Erna Fuchs, Kocherscheid, 1912
After August Sander moved away from the Danube River town of Linz in Austria in 1910 and re-established his studio in Cologne, he began to regularly visit the Westerwald region he knew so well. His goal was to build an additional customer base there. His photographs proved popular and he was soon being commissioned for a variety of occasions: weddings, anniversaries, confirmations, or keepsake images of families, children, and grandparents. Sander was born in Herdorf in the Westerwald in 1876 and the region would remain an important focal point throughout his life. Many of the portraits associated with the region are included in his magnum opus People of the 20th Century.
The photograph shown here was taken in 1912 in Kocherscheid in the Rhein-Sieg-Kreis area. The small town is not far from Kuchhausen, where Sander lived from 1944 until shortly before his death in 1964. The picture shows four sisters gathered before a forest clearing. They are all dressed up, with similar hairstyles topped by big bows and wearing dresses probably made by their mother or grandmother, featuring rickrack trim and decorative stitching and surely reserved for special occasions. The sisters are only a few years apart, and Sander has expressed their closeness through the circular composition of the figural group.
As can be discovered by researching the inventory of negatives in the August Sander archive, the photographer made additional pictures of the sisters and their parents when the eldest sister got married. The groom’s family were also customers.
August Sander’s long years of photography yielded thousands of portrait shots, which have been preserved in his archive and convey a fascinating impression of the people of his day.
Die Photographische Sammlung/SK Stiftung Kultur, Köln